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Short List: Week of September 3 - September 10

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In Christopher Marlowe's Faust, the hero asks his tempter, Mephistopheles, what he's doing out of hell. "Why, this is hell," the demon answers famously, "nor am I out of it." A new international theater troupe with roots in Pittsburgh seconds the motion in faustUS, its premiere production. The company is 404 Strand, brainchild of internationally known director Dan Jemmett and several of the performers who in recent years created three striking works for Quantum Theatre. Performers Andrew Hachey, John Fitzgerald Jay, Rick Kemp, Molly Simpson and Kristin Slaysman live all over, but join forces in Pittsburgh. With them, Jemmett distilled the Faust story -- man trades soul for world -- into a series of ritualized encounters between human and demon, with the five performers cycling through the two roles. Seated on the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater stage, an audience of 30 or so will watch the action through openings ("rather like CinemaScope," says Jemmett) cut in a series of cages or shells. Piped-in music includes tracks by American proto-punk band Suicide. "It becomes a sort of Everyman piece -- that the devil and Faust are two sides of the same person," he says. Compared to the enthrallingly theatrical works Jemmett and crew devised for Quantum, this show's tone sounds closer to the raucous Old West mashup The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and the carnival-set Dogface than this year's dreamlike The Museum of Desire. The 75-minute show (with five shows this week only) retains Marlowe's Elizabethan verse. "It becomes a sort of hellfire sermon, really," says Jemmett. "It should be a burning experience for everybody." Bill O'Driscoll 8 p.m. nightly Tue., Sept. 8-Sat., Sept. 12. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $10-20 ($5 students). 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

 

COURTESY OF REBECCA STEELE
  • Courtesy of Rebecca Steele

Thu., Sept. 3 -- Music

Helado Negro -- the solo project of Roberto Carlos Lange -- is colored with beautiful quietude, complex rhythms and a near-mechanical sense of repetition and building. Lange, raised in Florida by Ecuadorian parents, combines Latin influences with an ear for sound collage; the Helado Negro album, Awe Owe, includes contributions from nearly a dozen musicians including Prefuse 73's Guillermo Scott Herren. Expect guitars, textures and silky, simple vocals as Helado Negro -- in this case Lange is accompanied by Jason Ajemian -- plays Garfield Artworks tonight in a show produced by frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner. With Ekofield and Emily Pinkerton. Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $8. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com

 

Fri., Sept. 4 -- Music

If Geoffrey Chaucer were to mate with the Pussycat Dolls, the resulting love children would be the Mediaeval Baebes -- six super-hot, super-literary chicks who sing modernized medieval songs and poetry. The Baebes sing in Latin, French, Spanish, Gaelic and Swedish, for starters. And they back their vocals with medieval instruments like the recorder and cittern. Their music has a heavy Celtic influence and has topped the U.K. classical charts. They play a free outdoor show at The Frick Art & Historical Center tonight. Andrea Bullard 7 p.m. 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. Free. 412-371-0600


COURTESY OF TODD KAZTNER
  • Courtesy of Todd Kaztner

Sat., Sept. 5 -- Birds

Vultures, nature's cleanup crew, are in trouble. Their numbers have declined perilously in recent years, especially in Central Asia. The birds, which can digest anthrax-tainted meat with barely a case of heartburn, have been dying after eating carcasses treated with veterinary medications. Pittsburgh's National Aviary has been instrumental in studying the unlovely but crucial birds' decline -- and coming up with possible solutions. See the Aviary's four vultures in flight today -- it's International Vulture Day -- in the two regular daily bird shows, at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Melissa Meinzer 9 a.m.-5 p.m. National Aviary, 700 Arch St., North Side. $10 ($9 seniors/$8.50 children 2 and up; under 2 free.) 412-323-7235 or www.aviary.org

 

Sat., Sept. 5 -- Hip Hop

When you think of Milwaukee, it probably has something to do with cheese, Jeffrey Dahmer or regretted tallboys of Old Make-you-walk-funny. It almost certainly doesn't make you think of rappers from Cameroon -- all the more reason for MC Sona the Voice to perform here tonight in Oakland, land of learning new things and fondness for Milwaukean exports. Since immigrating to Wisconsin in his teens, Sona has graduated from college, started his own record label and launched his conscious-hip-hop career, charting high on the CMJ charts with his first single. His latest album is Afrikan Juju. Aaron Jentzen 9:30 p.m. Peter's Pub, 116 Oakland Ave., Oakland. 412-681-7465

 

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Sun., Sept. 6 -- Art

John Thompson lost 18 years of his life while on death row for murder in Louisiana. Since his exoneration, he's gone on to form an organization to help others similarly cleared get their lives back. He's one of the subjects of Daniel Bolick's series of paintings and drawings, "Resurrected." For the exhibit's closing at the Westmoreland Museum of Art, both Thompson and Bolick will be on hand for a reception and presentation. MM 2-4 p.m. 221 N. Main St., Greensburg. 724-837-1500 x10

 

Mon., Sept. 7 -- Outdoors

This Labor Day, do something both fun and useful for a change. The Mount Washington Community Development Corp.'s all-day Wild Art, Wild Trails Festival begins with a morning clean-up of an illegal dump site in Mount Washington Park. The idea is to clear the way for a "health-walk" trail in this corner of the Grand View Scenic Byway, the city's newest major park. Meanwhile, local artists will turn the picked trash into artworks. Other recreate-and-spectate options include a treasure hunt, a climbing wall, Frisbee games and boxing. And yes, there's food. BO 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 412-481-3220, x204 (clean-up volunteer registration: 412-481-3220, x200). 

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Even for the most fit and impetuous, rock-climbing can get pretty extreme. If you think it could become your new thing, you're advised to spend some time with a man-made wall before attempting to scale a remote desert cliff-face. Venture Outdoors provides one such opportunity this morning at Lake Elizabeth, in Allegheny Commons Park. The group's portable climbing wall lets you experience the challenges of the sport in a safe, controlled environment. If it turns out not to be your thing, there's also kayaking on the lake. AB 11 a.m.-4 p.m. East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue, North Side. $3. 412-255-0564

 

Mon., Sept. 7 -- Art

With its distinctive shape and nostalgic place in the collective memory, a bowling pin makes for quite an interesting canvas. For the third year, Lawrenceville's Zombo Gallery, along with Arsenal Bowling Lanes, has distributed free pins to Pittsburgh artists to paint, tile, airbrush or otherwise transform. The final products are on display and on sale tonight at the Art Goes Bowling show and party at Arsenal. DJ Zombo hosts and provides the tunes. AB 6-11 p.m. 212 44th St., Lawrenceville. Free. 412-683-5992

 

Tue., Sept. 8 -- Words

Remember those color-coded "terror alerts"? Well, you don't have to, because they're still around, technically. But the man who introduced them, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, visits Pittsburgh for the first time since publishing The Test of Our Times, a memoir of his days as the nation's first Secretary of Homeland Security. Ridge's book raised hackles with his assertion that Bush administration officials pressured him to raise the alert level for political reasons. He's likely to discuss that and more at today's book-signing at the Northway Mall Borders. BO Noon. Northway Mall, McKnight Road, Ross Township. Free. 412-635-7661

 

Wed., Sept. 9 -- Classical Music 

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra returns to Heinz Hall with a special guest. Violin superstar Itzhak Perlman headlines Enchanted Evening, a program under the direction of PSO music director Manfred Honeck. Tonight's music includes Weber's Overture to Der Freischütz; Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 in G major, Opus 88; Mozart's Concerto No. 3 in G major for violin and orchestra; and Kriesler's Liebesfreud. The concert is paired with the PSO gala fundraiser and dinner party -- but should $600 tickets exceed your grasp, they'll let you in to hear the music for lots less. BO 7:30 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $25-105. 412-391-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org

 

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Thu., Sept. 10 -- Music

Arrington De Dionyso is best known as the weirdo frontman of the K Records band Old Time Relijun, stripping down to his skivvies and growling about reverse evolution over caveman beats. On his 2008 solo album, I See Beyond the Black Sun, though, he oversees something of a musical devolution: The record is a series of drone tracks produced by De Dionyso's throat singing and bass clarinet, along with some improvised noisemakers. It's the most basic of jazz, the most primitive of trance music, from one of the true mystical figures of contemporary rock. He brings the show to Morning Glory Coffeehouse tonight along with legendary K Recs founder Calvin Johnson and Pelirrojo. AM 7:30 p.m. 1806 Chislett St., Morningside. $5 suggested donation. All ages. 412-450-1050 or www.moglocoffee.com

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